Is there a more important command given to Christians than to pray? There are around 200 mentions of prayer in the New Testament. We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), pray for one another (James 5:16), pray about everything with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) and pray in faith (Matthew 21:22). Jesus gave us a model prayer to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), He showed us an example of how to pray (John 17:1-26) and even demonstrated to us that prayer before a big decision, like choosing the twelve apostles, seeking God’s guidance in prayer is a wise thing to do (Luke 6:12). We learn in Romans 8:26 that communication with God is so important for us that even when we don’t know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groans that cannot be uttered (spoken). We learn that Jesus sits at the right hand of God and He also intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:34). We are even told that because of Jesus, we can approach the throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:15,16). Without question, as God’s people we are called to pray!
Yet, prayer must be done sincerely. Prayer is not a show for us to put on so that people think we are righteous. Jesus condemned as hypocrites those who did that very thing in Matthew 6:5. The Lord also said two verses later not to think that if we just use enough words that God will hear us. Additionally, James warned us that we don’t get what we ask for in prayer because we pray selfishly. He said, “we ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).
Since prayer is such an important topic in Scripture and there are so many passages that give us instruction about it, then you would think that Christians would be all about prayer, right? However, a recent survey suggested that the average Christians spends less than 5 minutes a day in prayer and the average preacher less than 7. It just doesn’t compute with me that we know the importance of praying but we spend so little time doing it. Why would that be?
Sunday night we’re going to look at “What Prayer Can Accomplish” and we’re going to hear what a true man of prayer, James, has to say about it. You might find it interesting that the church historian, Eusebius, reportedly claimed that James was sometimes referred to as “Old Camel Knees” because he was known for being on his knees in prayer so often and so long that people said his knees became worn and calloused like the knees of a camel. If that is actually true, then I think we ought to be able to learn a few things from such a man to whom prayer was so important. In our text Sunday night, James 5:13-18, we are going to see several important reasons we should all be in prayer more than we are.
James 5:16 reads, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (NKJV). Here’s a question for you to consider regarding these Holy Spirit inspired words written by an incredible man of prayer: If we truly believe what James wrote here, then why is there not a flow of people at every invitation coming to confess sin and asking for the prayers of their righteous brothers and sisters? Is it that we don’t believe James? Is it we don’t believe God? Is it we don’t believe that our brethren are righteous? Or is that we don’t believe in the power of righteous prayer?
The church that Jesus built, and which began on the day of Pentecost, prayed (Acts 2:42).They had faith in prayer, in the apostle doctrine as taught by Jesus and they had faith and trust in one another that they had all things in common and truly cared for each other.
How is your prayer life? How is your understanding of prayer? I hope you will join our study this Sunday night to see what God can do in your life through the avenue of prayer.